My interest is in mechanisms underlying evolution of diverse forms of life and I am apporaching this question using computer simulation and mathematical modeling. Currently, I am investigating roles of interspecific hybridization in causing species multiplication as a posdoc in the group Fish Ecology and Evolution.
Roles of hybridization in causing adaptive radiation
Understanding the mechanisms of rapid adaptive radiation has been a central problem of evolutionary ecology. Recent molecular evidence suggests that interspecific hybridization creating novel phenotypes could have promoted several adaptive radiations. However, since hybridization can also cause merge and collapse of existing taxa, the plausibility of the idea that hybridization can promote adaptive radiation remains unclear. To clarify whether and under what conditions does hybridization promote adaptive radiation, we simulated genomic evolution following hybridization between two allopatrically evolved lineages. The simulation demonstrated that hybridization can facilitate adaptive radiation into novel vacant ecological niches. Especially, hybridization could be a necessary cause for adaptive radiation when novel niches are highly different each other and phenotypic effects of mutations were too small to jump fitness valleys between adaptive peaks. Additionally, simulation results suggested that the effect of hybridization to promote adaptive radiation will be most strong when the degree of genetic differentiation between parental lineages is moderate. Our results provide theoretical basis for roles of hybridization in causing adaptive radiation.